Wednesday, January 26, 2011
One of the more common statements I get when I tell people I paint pictures is, "Oh, isn't that sooo relaxing?"
You kidding me? Relaxing?
Yeah, it's relaxing alright. As relaxing as a knife fight. As relaxing as a swim with sharks. As relaxing as engine trouble at 37,000 feet. Let me put it another way-- no, I don't find it relaxing.
You see, when I'm painting, every watt of power in my little brain is focused on the end of my paint brush. Each stroke can come out just right, or a disaster. The color note that looked good on the palette is completely wrong when I put it on the canvas. That nice, flowing brush stroke just overlapped into another section, and smeared the color. That little tweak I gave that perfectly good passage just turned it into a frozen pile of mud. Things go wrong. So I am completely focused on the task at hand. Does that sound relaxing to you?
Now, on the other hand, occasionally something really cool happens. That's when a passage turns out better than I had any reason to hope for. Then I'm all jazzed up. I'm jumping around the studio, doing back flips, patting myself on the back, acting like the Red Sox just beat the yankees! (A common occurrence these days, but still exciting). I go charging on, anxious to see if the rest of the painting will turn out as good. Doesn't really sound all that relaxing, now does it?
There are some things about painting that are not heart palpitating and stress inducing. Doing initial underdrawings, underpaintings or detail work--while very important-- can be somewhat dull. Some may even say boring. And boring isn't relaxing. We don't go to spas to be bored. We don't take vacations to be bored. So there's another strike against painting being relaxing. The truth is, when you put your heart and soul into any effort, it's not relaxing. Not if you care about how it turns out.
So, what do I do to relax after a hard day's painting? Why, I turn to the most relaxing person there ever was--
Mr. Relaxation, Perry Como!